Today saw the opening of Europe’s newest, largest public library in Birmingham, England. The £189 million library houses no less than 1 million books and 200 public access computers. In an age of e-book readers and a plethora of internet-based resources available round the clock from home and on the go, it might seem questionable why Birmingham has invested so much money and resources in a predominantly book-filled library.
Worldwide the traditional bricks and mortar libraries remain although dwindling in numbers for many of our towns and cities. When managed and funded effectively libraries can be an invaluable resource for their communities.
Amsterdam’s Openbare Bibliotheek is one such example of an existing library where technology, architecture, provision of gastronomy and traditional library resources combine to create an appealing place to visit regularly alone or with friends/peers.
What libraries offer is more than a place to read, study and borrow books, they’re social meeting points, internet cafes, skills development and career advancement centres, hubs for creativity and synergising ideas that, in the long term, may enrich society as a whole.
Birmingham’s new digital-focused library is a demonstration and hopefully change catalyst for how libraries should be in the digital-industrial revolution we live in today.